When I joined the Chrysler Museum of Art in January, my first major curatorial goal was reinstalling the McKinnon Galleries of Modern & Contemporary Art.
I was elated and nervous because this project would be my first opportunity to present my vision of the collection.
I started by examining our collection and exhibition history and asking myself several questions. What types of works are in our collection? Who are the artists? What narratives can the collection tell? What narratives have been overlooked?
Much of our collection comprises American art from the 1960s and 1970s, though we do have works by international artists of that same period, and contemporary works from the past few decades. After combing through our collection, I decided to veer away from trying to tell art history from a linear perspective because the discipline is messy, with artistic periods often overlapping, and complicated. I therefore organized the reinstallation thematically and titled it Multiple Modernisms.
The exhibition highlights works that have not been on view in over a decade to show the breadth of our collection. Many of the objects are on view for the first time. The exhibition also features female artists and artists of color, as those stories and legacies are not as well-known or ignored. In addition, visitors will see works by international artists from Japan, Zimbabwe, China and various European countries.
I took the name of the exhibition from a graduate course I completed at Columbia University called Multiple Modernities. Each week a different professor would introduce the history of modernism as an art theory and practice in a different geographic region throughout history. Modernism is traditionally taught to coincide with the late 19th and early 20th century Europe; however, the course taught me that one can think of modernist art as forms of new innovations brought into art practices. Therefore, different types of art from around the world and across time can be considered modernist.
Multiple Modernisms presents a wider scope of modern and contemporary art. I hope that visitors, new and continuing, learn more about our collection, and modern and contemporary art in general. There are so many artists and ideas about art that should be more recognized, so hopefully this exhibition will give audiences a glimpse they will want to explore.
For more on this exhibition, click here. It runs Nov 17, 2017. – Jan 31, 2019.